As winter is approaching, the changing seasons can also take a toll on our mental health, including:
- Feeling stressed and pressured
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Having low energy or tiredness
- Feeling sluggish
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
- Having problems with sleeping
- Changes to apettite, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Experience changes in personality and demeanor, compared to summer months
These are signs and symptoms that may indicate Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It is totally normal to feel low sometimes, but if you feel down for several days in a row and you can't get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, seeing your doctor might be the right decision. Take signs and symptoms of SAD seriously as it can lead to other mental health challenges.
SAD usually starts in fall or winter, and lasts until spring or early summer. It can impact emotions, sleep schedule, energy level, self-esteem, and how we engage in social interactions, as well as work and study.
SAD can affect anyone, and statistics show that SAD is diagnosed more often in women than in men, and more frequently in younger adults than in older adults. It is also more common for people who live farther north or south of the equator, due to coldness and longer winter, and fewer hours of daylight during winter.
How to reduce the impacts of SAD
- Enjoy the sunshine - and this is free!
- When you are suffering from SAD, you will focus on the things that make you pain, and ignore all the little things in life that you enjoy. Take steps to make yourself feel better, maintain a healthy and consistent daily schedule, spend time on things that make you feel relaxed and happy.
- Take a walk outside during the day, get a cup of coffee that heals your soul, put away the work, and feel the beautiful sky and warm sunshine.
- If you don’t want to be bothered, make yourself a pot of warm tea, pick up the book that you love the most, and have a quality time with yourself:) Go to the balcony and a quick nap under the sun will energize you for the next hours of work.
- Exercise frequently - try to maintain a 30-60 minute exercise every day, walk your dog can also help relieving the stress
- Working out can help relieve stress, and triggers endorphins - the body’s “feel-good” hormone!
- Think about what you’re eating - SAD can increase your desire for sugar and carbohydrates, so find some substitutes like oatmeal, wheat bread, brown rice, and bananas! Food with omega-3 can positively impact SAD symptoms, so fish, walnuts, beans, flaxseed are all good choices!
- Stress level management - managing your stress is essential - especially while at university. Activities like yoga and meditation can be really helpful, so find one that works for you!